The signature curves of Coca-Cola’s iconic bottle were introduced November 16, 1915. That centennial milestone is being marked with a year-long celebration and a global campaign. And nascent Belgian illustrator Bert Dries is taking part.
When Coca-Cola calls
The assignment came by email. It was Coca-Cola Belgium asking if he’d take part in an art exhibition for which every piece would incorporate the unmistakable bottle as the primary subject. Soon after, client and illustrator met; but the meeting was little more than a formality: “There wasn’t a lot to discuss because they were giving me carte blanche.
They did, however, talk about the details of the partnership. Part exhibition and part celebration, Bert’s participation would also include live drawing (at an expo at Coca-Cola headquarters) with a permanent marker on a six-foot-tall, whited-out replica of the iconic bottle, and a workshop demonstrating his design/illustration process using Adobe Illustrator CC.
By the end of the meeting, they’d asked him to create three pieces. An assignment Bert took on more like a personal art project.
Bert got busy thinking in red, white, and black: “I did make some initial sketches, but after sending them, I went in a completely different direction. So, in the end, they weren’t even a representation of the final art.”
But Coca-Cola Belgium liked them. And the works were printed. And hung at the expo (along with the work of other artists/designers). Interestingly, Bert’s first piece was printed incorrectly serendipitously giving it a pink hue and a pop art vibe that capture the bottle’s pop culture status.
About that six-foot high bottle? It was sent to Bert a few days before the event so he could take some time to consider its dimension. Not wanting a fully-fleshed-out idea, he composed just a general outline of what he wanted to draw: “I made a few lines ahead of time, but once I got there, there were people watching and asking questions and I just drew.”
That same audience, interested in his process, participated in the creation of Bert’s fourth piece when, armed with nothing more than a blank canvas in Illustrator CC, he asked the audience what they wanted to see him create. They made suggestions. He designed. They asked questions. He explained. And so it went until the illustration was complete.
A stark white bottle and a blank canvas
In the end, the four-piece assignment was much more of an art exercise for Bert: “Usually when you work for a big client they provide a lot of direction and have a lot of concrete ideas; but this time I had a lot of freedom.”